‘We’re go­ing to get sued’

PC leader talks about fall­out from Bill 75

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

Q: (The teach­ers dis­pute) has been dom­i­nat­ing the news the last num­ber of weeks. Where do you see things go­ing from here now that the leg­is­la­tion (Bill 75) has been passed?

A: We’re go­ing to get sued. Tax­pay­ers are on the hook for mil­lions of dol­lars in le­gal costs be­cause the bill not con­sti­tu­tional, that’s in­evitable. It’s one of the rea­sons

I op­posed it; I think it’s reck­less fi­nan­cially to ex­pose the tax­pay­ers of

Nova Sco­tia to mil­lions of dol­lars in costs. I for one would have rather seen that money just go into class­rooms in the first place. This whole thing would have been avoided. Mr. McNeil, his style, which is to hu­mil­i­ate teach­ers, to divide peo­ple, has ac­tu­ally cost us two school days this year. He pro­voked a one-day strike, the first in our his­tory, and he locked the stu­dents out in De­cem­ber. The other thing is, the teach­ers, they don’t trust Pre­mier McNeil any­more, they don’t trust his gov­ern­ment and that means all hope of real class­room im­prove­ments is gone for the re­main­der of his gov­ern­ment, and that’s a shame.

Q

: What does this mean now for the other col­lec­tive agree­ments that are up for ne­go­ti­a­tion?

A: We’ll see. The fact is that there is no set­tled agree­ment by ne­go­ti­a­tion, he has one now that he forced through last week. There will be a bud­get this spring, they’ll claim it’s bal­anced, that claim will be false be­cause it’s based on col­lec­tive agree­ments that have yet to be con­cluded through ne­go­ti­a­tion, it’s based on as­sump­tions that I don’t think will hold up and it means we have a very de­mor­al­ized and un­mo­ti­vated work­force of teach­ers and other gov­ern­ment work­ers, and I think that’s a shame be­cause we need ev­ery­body to work to­gether is we’re ever go­ing to turn this place around.

Q : What are some of your other pri­or­i­ties head­ing into a spring sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture?

A: No. 1 is growth — jobs, the econ­omy. The Con­fer­ence Board of Canada just to­day put out a re­port say­ing we’re go­ing to be the last in the coun­try this year and next year in jobs and I think this is the big dif­fer­ence be­tween Stephen McNeil and Jamie Bail­lie: we look at the same prob­lem we have a stalled econ­omy, and McNeil’s an­swer to that is to cut things. Well, I didn’t run to cut things. He cuts health care, he cut men­tal health, he cut nurs­ing home meals to $5 a day for our se­niors. I have no in­ter­est in that. I want to grow things. We have to fo­cus on growth, on get­ting the econ­omy go­ing and clear­ing off red tape and get­ting our taxes down to the na­tional av­er­age so we can com­pete and win. We will have a full set of long-term plans to bring to the house when it re­con­venes in the spring.

Q : When do you ex­pect an elec­tion to be called?

A: Some­time this year. We will be ready — we’re pretty much ready now. The way that the McNeil gov­ern­ment han­dled the teach­ers was pretty bad, a lot of hard feel­ings, even how rudely they treated peo­ple who came to the leg­is­la­ture want­ing to tes­tify. I think a lot of Nova Sco­tians no­ticed that and they’re not happy with it. Whether that means the elec­tion is de­layed or not, we’ll see.

Q : If your party doesn’t make any ma­jor ad­vances in the next elec­tion, what do you fore­see your own fu­ture be­ing?

A: We’re go­ing to win the next elec­tion, I ab­so­lutely be­lieve it, from the re­sponse I’m get­ting from peo­ple, even to­day in Syd­ney … .The only thing I am fo­cused on is win­ning the elec­tion and show­ing Nova Sco­tians a pro-growth plan.

Q : There’s been a lot of frus­tra­tion lo­cally in the rolling out of as­sis­tance for peo­ple who were af­fected by the Thanks­giv­ing flood, what would your ap­proach be to that?

A: To make sure that every fam­ily gets the help they need and I’m very frus­trated that the McNeil gov­ern­ment put out flow­ery press re­leases and then walked away from some fam­i­lies. To me, gov­ern­ing means see­ing your com­mit­ments through to the end and that has not hap­pened, and I think it’s very un­fair.

Bail­lie

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